Dozens of trees will be saved and more planted in a compromise over a dispute about the Bobby Jones Golf Course redesign’s effects on Buckhead creeks.

Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy group, earlier this year protested the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation’s request to state officials to build within a 25-foot buffer along the Peachtree and Tanyard creeks. Both creeks run through the golf course, located in Atlanta Memorial Park along Woodward Way.

A section of Tanyard Creek within the Bobby Jones Golf Course that was among the locations with proposed changes that concerned Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and led to the tree-saving compromise. (Special)

In a joint press release, the organizations said the foundation has redesigned the plans to remove 18 large trees rather than 47, and to plan 70 replacement trees within the buffer area along both creeks. The revised plan also includes more ground cover of native grasses and shrubs, which are intended to reduce erosion.

“One of our Foundation’s primary focuses from the outset has been environmental stewardship,” said Foundation Chairman Chuck Palmer in the press release. “We appreciate CRK’s thoughtful suggestions on how to further enhance the golf course’s improvement of this green space. CRK’s input has improved the overall project.”

Jason Ulseth of Chattahoocheer Riverkeeper also praised the compromise in the press release.

“We are committed to protecting Tanyard and Peachtree creeks because of the important functions they serve within the larger river system,” Ulseth said. “We appreciate the Foundation’s collaboration and commitment to minimizing impacts and taking steps to better stabilize these stream banks.”

Meanwhile, another dispute about the golf course work remains in court. In May, a group of local residents sued the foundation and the state, saying the golf course project is violating various city codes, including the tree ordinance. The foundation says the golf course is state-owned, so city zoning and ordinances do not apply.

Palmer said in an email that motions to dismiss the lawsuit are awaiting a judge’s decision. He said the legal action is preventing a similar compromise with the residents.

“I’d much prefer to have discussions like we had with Riverkeeper than litigation,” Palmer said. “The lawsuit derailed the productive conversations we were having with the six neighborhood associations.”

The formerly city-owned historic golf course was transferred to the state in a 2016 land swap and is undergoing an extensive renovation into a reversible nine-hole course, along with a larger facility whose features will include a golf hall of fame. The state leased the course to the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation, which is overseeing the renovation. Construction is underway and the foundation says the course is on track to open this fall.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.